UP, others fail to find lead; Hong Kong okays Maggi

Several test reports from states have found Maggi noodles to be free of lead as Nestlé India undertakes a country-wide recall.

Hundreds of Maggi noodle samples tested in the last 15 days in Uttar Pradesh, the state which first raised alarm, failed to show more than permissible levels of lead. Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Mizoram, too, reported lead in Maggi noodles far below toxic levels.

Hong Kong has also termed tests on the product satisfactory. “Following media reports of the incident in India, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducted a check at the retail level and found Maggi Masala Noodles and a curry flavoured variant on sale in two provision shops selling south-eastern Asian foods. Samples of these Maggi noodles were taken for analysis of lead content and the results were satisfactory,” a CFS spokesman said.

MAGGI GRILLED, BUT NOT FRIED
  • Hundreds of Maggi noodle samples tested in the last 15 days in Uttar Pradesh, which first raised the alarm, failed to show lead at levels higher than prescribed
  • Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Mizoram, too, reported lead in Maggi noodles far below toxic levels
  • Also, Hong Kong’s tests on Maggi noodles imported from India have found them satisfactory

Although the regulator was told by Nestlé Dairy Farm HK — the company’s subsidiary in that region — that Nestlé HK does not sell Maggi noodles produced in India there. Between 2012 and 2014, CFS had tested some 120 samples for metallic and microbiological contaminations. “The results were all satisfactory”, the spokesperson told Business Standard.

According to Ram Araj Maurya, assistant commissioner in the department of food and drug administration of Uttar Pradesh, lead has not been found at higher than the prescribed level in 200 samples. Test reports from UP food regulator showing high lead in Maggi noodles stared the controversy which snowballed to become a nightmare for Nestlé India leading to a country-wide recall of the product. On June 8, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), after ordering recall of Maggi noodles, asked state FDAs to conduct thorough tests on noodles and pastas from Nestle among others.

In Chhattisgarh half the samples tested recently have failed to show lead presence. “Of the 21 samples we have tested, only half had lead (at 0.05-0.293 ppm) much below the 2.5 parts per million level,” said SS Tomar who is in charge of the state food laboratory in Raipur. Half the samples had no lead.

Karnataka has not found lead at a toxic level in Maggi noodles. “We tested 25 samples earlier where lead was below the prescribed level,” said HS Shivkumar of the state’s water and food laboratory in Bengaluru.

Assam reported presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the chicken variant of Maggi noodles. According to Anupam Gogoi, food analyst at the laboratory in Guwahati, presence of MSG is not an offence in India since there is not prescribed limit for it. The state authority is planning to take action against Nestlé India on the labelling issue as the company declared “no added MSG” on its packets.

While, several states have already found Maggi noodle to be free of lead, others like Bihar and Rajasthan could not progress in testing process due to lack of proper infrastructure. Pankaj Kumar, in charge of the State Safety and Standards Laboratory in Jaipur – where the tests are under progress – says, they could not start testing immediately the issue came in fore as the lab did not had any machines to detect lead and other heavy metals.

Meanwhile, thousands of tonnes of Maggi that was supposed to end up inside hungry stomachs after creating sensations to millions of taste buds are going up in smoke from furnaces of cement manufacturing units across the country.